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An Explanatory Theory for Psychoanalysis: The Unconscious as Symbolopoiesis

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The author points out that it is desirable for psychoanalysis to possess not only descriptive theories, which are useful for clinical purposes, but also a general, unitary theory to explain the functioning of the mind. An explanatory theory must be consistent with the findings of the other sciences of the mind. Freud pursued his explanatory aim by formulating his energy-and-drive theory in line with the sciences of his day. This underlay the recognition achieved by psychoanalysis at the time. We currently lack an explanatory theory consistent with the present-day neurosciences, while on the other hand the energy-and-drive theory can no longer be deemed to possess explanatory value. However, a new explanatory theory can be constructed on the basis of today's cognitive sciences. Summarizing the ideas presented in his writings over the last twenty years, the author here puts forward his own theory, which he considers will be useful, first, in a clinical context, second, with a view to standardizing the language used by psychoanalysts, and third, as part of a policy of securing recognition for psychoanalysis among the present-day psychological sciences.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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